Imagine if you entered a huge building that doesn’t have any floor plans, signs, or people to guide you, and you’re supposed to reach a certain room out of the hundreds in the building. Wouldn’t you feel lost and frustrated? That is exactly what users feel when they cannot navigate through a website due to bad information architecture.
Let us take a closer look at what Information Architecture is and how it can decide whether your user experience has been designed well or not.
What Exactly is Information Architecture?
The science of ordering and organizing is not new and has been around since ancient Egyptians first started to maintain scrolls for all the writings they had – sort of a library log. Very simply put, Information Architecture is the craft of organizing complex information in a concise, clear, and logical fashion. It is an important part of the define and ideate phases of the design thinking process.
In the UX design industry, the term Information Architecture is probably one of the most used terms since a user does not coincidentally encounter a certain element/object on a website – it is the job of a UX Designer to draft the blueprint of the website in such a manner that it leads the user to specific places of value on the website.
This blueprint is exactly what Information Architecture is about. If this blueprint is designed well, the user will never even notice that there’s a specific structure to the website. That’s what one should aim for while designing a website or an application – making the flow so smooth and the IA so efficient that the user doesn’t even notice it.
Can’t I Just Design A Great UI To Give The User A Better Experience?
You could have the best graphic designers create beautiful interfaces with amazing animations, and yet, if the Information Architecture isn’t on point, the interfaces will lack user-friendliness. Visual appearance is very outward in nature, i.e., it doesn’t speak for the infrastructure of the product or its features.
It is only the skin and the inner organs that need to function well for the body to function well. Information Architecture is one such important organ.
To really make the website user-friendly, the content needs to be revealed progressively. More importantly, the right content needs to be revealed at the right time.
How Can I Design A Good Information Architecture For My Site?
At this point, we’d also like to remind you that navigation and Information Architecture are terms that are often interchanged, but they are two different things. In fact, navigation is a part of Information Architecture.
There is no strict list of steps to follow, but we’ve narrowed it down to 5 simple steps to help you make a good IA.
- Content audit: This content audit isn’t the full site audit. It is more of an evaluation of all the content that you’d like the user to see. Try and make a physical list of the contents – images or text, and sometimes even audio-visual elements, depending on your needs.
- Sorting and labelling: Techniques like card-sorting and grouping can help properly categorize the above-listed content. It is highly suggested that the entire team participate in this activity regardless of being designers or not.
- Establish hierarchy: You’ve probably heard the term Site Map or seen it on most websites’ footers. Every piece of content is arranged in a proper hierarchy on a website so that the categorization of contents is visually available to the user and comes in handy for the designer.
- Check the structure and flow: It is important to understand that hierarchy isn’t the main focus of information architecture. It is an important part, sure, but structure of the architecture and the flow of the entire map is far more important.
- Define navigational touchpoints: Like in any other step of user experience design, real users should be involved in validating information architecture as well. Clearly defining touchpoints from where a user may access certain site elements is crucial to the validation of your blueprint.
If you want to understand Information Architecture in a deeper sense, we suggest the book “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. Some of the widely used tools for Information Architecture include Whimsical and LucidChart.
We at Brucira strive to improve user experience with a good information architecture in every project we undertake and one of our novel examples is Ruttl which works so efficiently because of the way its contents have been mapped.
If you need help designing a powerful website for yourself, reach out to us at email@example.com.
Check out Ruttl, a visual feedback tool and collaboration tool for your web design projects: https://ruttl.com/
To manage your time and tasks, try out Brutask, a simple to-do list tool for small teams: https://brutask.com/